Monday, September 22, 2008

How to apologize: I'm sorry or my bad?

Yesterday in worship I was talking about how our culture has replaced "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" with "My bad." I wasn't feeling good about this. During a talkback a teenage guy disagreed with me and said that "My bad" carries with it all the meaning of "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" I responded with, "I guess some translation is needed at that point."

Later that night we talked again in the parking lot about how language shifts. At one point "charity" got replaced with "love." Are we in the midst of a language shift where "I'm sorry" will be replaced with "My bad?" My teenage friend did admit that youth like to change things just "to be weird."

So I am trying to be open to this shift but something in me is resisting big time. What do you think?


Friday, July 11, 2008

Church softball and Christian community

I don’t know how many small groups we have at St. John but they are the key to our mission. I want to tell you about two of them. We have two softball teams that do more than just play softball. The Thursday night team on which I play is a wonderful example of how we are building spiritual community on the softball field.

First of all we really enjoy being together. Good natured teasing is a big part of the fun. Secondly, leadership makes a difference. Our coach, Nick Brawner, gets it. It’s not just about softball. It’s about building Christian community. Nick not only performs the administrative duties well but he keeps us connected with each other’s concerns and joys. And it’s not like he does it all. We share leadership. After each game we gather for a wrap up and to share joys and concerns. One of our member’s father passed away recently. Another shared a concern about a friend with cancer. And then right there with all kinds of people around we hold hands and pray. Brent Goodrum has been a leader in this regard.

I don’t know if any of this has much to do with the fact that we are undefeated this season. But I feel compelled to risk sinful pride to tell you that we nearly lost our first game last night. With a tie game we went to extra innings. It was the bottom of the inning. Sarah was on second. Jeremy on first. Oh no! Two of our best hitters got out. The next batter stepped up to the plate. Will he be the goat or the hero? Strike one. Ball one. He knew exactly where he wanted to hit. A swing and a drive to right center field. Sarah speeds to the plate and St. John wins!

Your pastor and humble hero.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surprise Visitor in Worship

It's wierd. Some of us at St. John have been talking about how to get a visitor to come anonymously to our church and give us feedback on how we do to welcome others. Then we received the visit of Chris Thompson, who writes a blog for the Anchorage Daily News about visiting churches! Chris visited our church on April 20, 2008. We couldn't be more pleased with the results of his visit. If you want to read his review go to


Monday, May 12, 2008


Health care experts talk about prevention of disease and injuries as the most cost-effective way to deal with health problems. This is also true in the church. I believe much United Methodist church conflict is a result of pastors NOT teaching their churches about our UM connection and polity. Bishop Judy Craig of West Ohio once told her clergy, "You are not telling your people what you know."

Last Sunday at St. John UMC we experienced a multimedia presentation of what happened at General Conference. It wasn't all good but people came away feeling inspired about being a part of our UM connection. With so many new members coming from other religious traditions it is imperative that we constantly share our UM history and how we do church together. I am amazed when lay people are surprised and angry when a bishop moves their pastor to a new church. Why aren't they told that pastors are ordained to an itinerant ministry and that bishops are the ones authorized to do this?

It seems to me that if we are living according to certain rules as a denomination then we all need to be reminding each other how they work. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

General Conference - Day 5

I got sick last night and was able to have Jim Doepken sit in my seat this morning so I could sleep in. Am feeling much better. Attended my legislative committee dealing with superintendents and bishops. Then some of us in the western jurisdiction heard about a petition to have each jurisdiction pay for their own bishops. If passed this would mean we would go from 6 to 3 bishops in the west. It would no doubt weaken our connection and lessen our leadership potential.

We were entertained tonight with the Texas Boy's Choir and food. I told Rev. Kay Shock that if she got on the bull to have her picture taken I would give $100 to Nothing But Nets. She actually did it!!! Gotta find my checkbook!

God is good!

Friday, April 25, 2008

General Conference

Third day and sleep deprivation is definitely setting in. More inspirational worship and sermons. Most of our time is spent in legislative committees. I'm in the Superintendency Committee interested in defeating a proposal to reduce bishops. We voted today to raise the mandatory retirement age of a bishop from 66 to 68. We'll see how it progresses through the system. Lots of positive energy. Hopefully it will last throughout the conference. I'm also getting some new ideas for St. John's future and worship life.

Still glad to be here.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

General Conference in Ft. Worth

Opening worship for the 2008 General Conference was unbelievably powerful for me. Usually it is hard for preachers who lead worship to worship themselves. I found myself weeping throughout this two-hour worship service. The mass choir, dancers, visual images, procession of the bishops, and holy communion helped to move my spirit into the holy presence of God. With over 6500 worshipping United Methodists from all over the world I was given a glimpse of what heaven must be like when God's people come together to experience God.

The communion table, altar table, and pulpit were crafted from buildings destroyed by hurricane Katrina. These were powerful symbols that God can and will redeem suffering. From death comes resurrection.

Thank you for your prayers. Keep them coming.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dibbles for Lent

I was privileged to do the children’s sermon last Sunday and talked about a dibble. I showed them a green wooden dibble and talked about how it is used to poke holes In the ground for planting seeds. Lent is a great time to allow the ground of our being to be poked! What new or old practice is a dibble for your spiritual growth? Could it be reading the Upper Room every day during Lent? Could it be writing a care note every day to someone who needs encouragement? Could it be kneeling in prayer every night before you sleep?

Sometimes people are “dibbles” to us. Who is your dibble? Perhaps it may be a family member or close friend. Maybe it could be a person who regularly irritates you. What can you learn from giving permission for someone to poke a hole in your soul?

Lent is a time for our souls to become aerated, to make room for a green plant to grow in our lives. As we make this journey together I invite you to consider such a “dibble” in your life.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

We preachers tend to think about what we preach about. Yesterday's sermon was on resolutions. I've been thinking more about the notion of failing at how we want to improve our lives. When it comes to the growth of our soul, that which needs our attention will continue to present itself to our awareness. In other words, the development of our spiritual lives will not be solved by a one-time resolution. The issue will keep coming at us over and over again. Part of the spiritual solution is to not expect easy or final answers.

Someone once defined maturity as "realizing the most important lessons in life are the ones we thought we already knew." So why are we surprised when an issue we thought was solved comes back? We also are tempted to seek new solutions to these old problems thinking it is like other problems in American life: it must need a new solution since the old solutions don't work! What a trap! The answers always lie deep in the heart of God's grace.

Grace and peace,